What is Search Engine Optimization
Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is the "art" of applying "code", "tags" and arranging content to make 1 page of your Web site highly relevant to 1 (possibly 2) subjects on that 1 page. If you apply SEO to 1 page and none of the others in your site, that can do more harm than good. Each page is optimized completely differently. If 2 pages are the same or very similar to one another, that will hurt your search engine results.
Optimizing a website is a long, tedious process. It can take 100 hours or more to provide expert optimization because there is a great deal of analysis in every step in order to work with 1 website. Each page is different. So the more pages you have, the longer optimization mandates. Applying SEO is custom work for "every" website since there are no 2 pages the same - even in your own site. If there are, then 1 or both pages / Web sites will be sanctioned by the search engines, which simply means, you can be banned or at least forced to the back of the search results. Both of those options are not...optimal.
When you consider SEO, there is so much information about the subject that it's hard to differentiate between what's valid, what's true and what's not. I'm one of those people who encourage you to find out what's true. And when you initially consider SEO, you should take a few minutes to review one of those sites that will "audit" your own website in order that you can visually see in fairly simple terms where your site excels and where it lapses. There are many websites that provide that service to you for free, and recently I found one that seemed to keep it simple and yet provide enough information to me that I thought it would be worth suggesting. So try seoptimer.com/ - just enter your domain (yourdomain.com) and click on "Audit".
If you would like to have additional audit information, please Contact me and we can discuss your needs.
Who To Hire for SEO
Search Engine Optimization is without a doubt one of the most confusing and contentious subjects anywhere on or related to the Net. Without it, your Web site search engine position suffers. Sometimes to a point where your site cannot be found in the results. To make matters worse, when you question a developer about what works, what's best, which search engine provides "accurate" information about optimization, you never get the same answer from any 2 people.
So how do you know who to trust? There are a few quick answers for that.
- Trusting a developer who has their own site on page 1 or 2 of the search results for what search terms should be obvious for the services offered by the developer seems logical.
- If the developer is more than willing to provide a great deal of information about what they are planning to do with your site, why, and the costs involved, that should also lead you to a logical trust.
- How long has the developer been "applying" SEO should be asked.
- How often have they moved a site with hundreds of pages and products into a page 1 or 2 position in search results - even in google - from a position of perhaps 400?
- I recommend establishing a rapport with a developer prior to applying any optimization.
But, there are problems with those answers. If the developer is on page 1 or 2 search results (don't confuse that with rank because rank is not "search engine results position" - SERP) in one search engine but not another, you have to stop and ask why. At this point you also have to stop and say to yourself, this is already getting more confusing that you want to try to understand.
Search Engines Are Not The Same
Let me be clear. Search engines are not all alike. Bing does a great job at allowing "any" Web site to attain a good SERP if "enough" optimization is applied. But google used to be concerned with being fair and no longer has any concern for those not willing to spend a great deal of money on their services. Today, you can do everything properly and still get poor SERP with google.
On Bing, Yahoo, DuckDuckGo, Yandex and Dogpile, TAGarrison.com is found on page 1, generally around position 6. That's extremely good SERP for 5 of the top 7 search engines results matching. So why doesn't google follow suit? Great question...let me know when you find the answer. And why is there 1 other search engine that does not follow suit in the list of 7? That would be the "type" of search engine in the comparison list. All search engines are not designed to provide results for "anything" on the Internet. Some are designed for specific types of searches - which I won't go into. There are many more that compete with those I've listed. But popularity is one of the initial quantifiers of which are "good" search engines. Believe it or not, DuckDuckGo is an up and coming contender.
With this you should understand that if you are concentrating on the mandates of 1 search engine, your site may only being found in good SERP on that 1 search engine. The better answer is, optimize for as many search engines as possible without jumping through hoops just because that 1 search engine believes "you" should listen to everything they tell you - like they are the smartest person in the room. Rookies optimize and continue to state that google is the only search engine for which to optimize. Even you may feel that it's the largest, meaning the most popular by a landslide. I'm here to tell you that's a bad assumption.
How to Begin Applying Optimization
Applying SEO can be next to impossible if you have not studied optimization for at least 2 or 3 years. What "you" can do for your own site is plan, then follow the plan.
Your plan should consist of:
- What keyword terms will you target?
- How many subjects can I have on 1 page?
- How many "different" subjects do you have in your entire site? (e.g. TAGarrison.com has Bellingham Web Design and SEO on the home page - but 2 different pages inside the site having 1 subject per page)
- How much content should you write?
- Where in the sentences will your keywords appear?
And to answer those questions:
- What keyword terms best describe 1 (perhaps 2) subjects related to your Web site on 1 page? The answer to that is not really up to you. The first thing you need to know is, what terms are "searched" that relate to your 1 (or 2) subjects? And, you may be asking why I mention just 1 or 2 subjects. Because you never, never, never attempt to target more keyword terms than that on any 1 page of your site.
- You should plan no more than 2 subjects on any 1 page - period. Then number of keyword terms may vary, and there is no hard number. As long as the keyword terms are highly relevant to the subject(s). Too many people attempt to target 3 - 6 different subjects on their home page and other single pages, and in just 4 or 5 sentences. That makes those pages worthless. When a visitor comes to 1 page of any 1 Web site, they expect that 1 page to have highly relevant information to the searched term (they only searched 1 term). If there are more subjects on the page then the visitor expected, they "bounce" - leave the site immediately without going to any other pages, and in less than 30 seconds. You want to write your content so that it retains the visitor for at least 2 minutes.
- You can have unlimited subjects in your site. But all of the subjects should fall under 1 or 2 main categories. And, you can have subjects that are not related at all - as long as you are not attempting to optimize that unrelated page to your other pages.
- Writing 2 to 3 paragraphs of content that include at least 3 sentences per paragraph is minimum. You can write more, but don't bore your visitors. The content should be information you know visitors want to read which is highly relevant to the subject. Imagine that you are talking to someone about your subject(s). I'll bet you have people very riveted about your subject because you are passionate about that subject. THAT is the content you want to write. Forget about anybody telling you anything else. Think about the many times you have discussed your subject(s) with someone and how excited you were when you were talking about your subject(s). Write that content.
- As close to the beginning of your sentences as possible. But, don't overuse any keyword terms. If you read the above again, as you are talking to someone, do you keep repeating the subject(s)? No. So don't do that in your content.
What About Links?
Search engine optimization has had "links" as the most contentious subject since the early 2000's. The simple answer is, don't!
That's correct. You will find many developers who continue to tell you that you need to link to other sites. The reason they tell you that is because "they" are not well informed. Read that as, do not hire that developer.
Here's the reasoning less-informed developers have convinced themselves that links are good. Back in the early 2000's, there was perhaps a 3-year period where links were the rage. It was acceptable and advised. But, because there were so many developers who decided to use "link farms" and software that created links, Web sites had pages of links in them. There was never any value in the links. They were just links to sites that contained a word or more of the subject in your site.
Moving forward, unless you were keeping on top of the most recent information for optimization you wouldn't know that sites were being banned from using the above practice. For a few years it was simply thought best to have no links at all. But enough developers continued to use them, although sparingly, that new developers thought it was a good thing. And, yes. There are sites that specifically stated that links should be used in order to gain reputation with google, which is the only search engine that looks to see if there are any links to your site from highly reputable sites. If not, you will not be received as well with google. Many developers today didn't read the specifics about how to link, and keep telling people to make sure to use them.
What's The Right Way To Link?
The search engines changed (which happens all the time) so that they accepted links - BUT...with very critical rules in using links. This brings us to today. "CAN" you link? Yes. "HOW"?
IF...the link is organic, which means it was created "from" another site that is very well established (I'll use Nike for the example), then that link is found to be valuable. Let's say you have a small shoe store selling high quality shoes, and you have a Web site where you sell your shoes in addition to your "brick-and-mortar" physical address in some (or several) cities. Nike decides that your stores are selling quality shoes and establishes a link from their Web site to your Web site. That constitutes an "organic" link from a well-established Web site.
Ok. Now that you have an idea of "when" you can use links to or from other sites, ask yourself this question. What are the chances that your little store (or stores) will ever catch the eye of the Nike corporation? I think you get the idea. So the logical answer for most people is, do not link. And if you do link, it would be to a site that is very similar to yours in what they sell or service(s) they provide. In essence, you are sharing links with the competition.
If that were true, then "Joe Web Developer", who has been generating a minimum of 20,000 unique visits daily to his site, and TAGarrison should exchange links. Right? WHY in the world would we do that? What if I'm really good at what I do for more than 20 years, I'm a very personable with my clients, but "Joe" is a bit gruff with people and has only been in business for a couple of years? Isn't "Joe" just sending me his prospects?
If you can think of another scenario where links will work and you are not sending your prospects away from your site, I'd like to hear about that. If your Web site is providing quality information, no sales, I can see that sharing links would be a good idea. But then you have to make sure that the "other" site is promoting your link and not burying the link in some obscure page of their site.
Hire a long-time professional. Someone who has been developing and providing optimization as one of their services for 4 or 5 years is not much time to be "expert" with optimization. And a company with many employees / developers has to maintain a sales force in order to generate a high income. If they are honest with you, that will hurt their "bottom line". When was the last time someone did not attempt to "sell" you their services or products, and instead, simply told you about them in a way that prompted you to seriously consider hiring that person? Welcome To T.A. Garrison, LLC!